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Does It Still Hurt?

She screams silently into the back of her mind
Reaching out to the pain

A morbid bubble ripped open like a womb after birth

Open and fresh the tear is fingered over and over

Does it still hurt? Yes. Does it still hurt?

Her memories form twisted and charred
No longer the truth but a long line of guilt

Taunting and grabbing at each of her limbs and knocking on the echoing chambers of her heart
Tortured by the torture she lies in the dark

self pity and blame her blanket

It’s her fault he did it. Her fault.

Manipulation catapults her from hate for him to loathing of self

A merry go round never slowing

She scratches at her skin. Physical pain to numb the other.

Not the first. Won’t be the last.
She hasn’t learned to love herself

So she waits for the cycle to start again.

And so it does. And so it does.

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It’s not a complaint, it’s a celebration.

I’ve slept less than 6 hours a night and haven’t eaten a cooked meal in over a week. My bedroom resembles a car boot sale and I’m pretty sure my cats think my flat mates are their actual owners.

This isn’t a complaint, it’s a celebration.  I am so blessed to be so busy doing what I love.

However, I feel it’s time to lay bare some home truths about following your dreams as a musician.

I often get the impression that a vast majority believe that being a musician is having an elaborate hobby supported by full time work or generous and well off parents.

I gave up my 32k job to become a student. This gives me just enough in the form of student finance to live on. I spend the majority of this on rehearsal rooms, travel, accommodation and per diems for my musicians, advertising and other musically related expenses.

At my level playing small pubs and clubs with the occasional small festival thrown in for good measure, payment is sporadic at best. I am lucky to get expenses and when I do it rarely scratches the surface of the actual expenditure that made it possible for my musicians and I to play.

Again, this is not a complaint. Yes, it would be wonderful to be paid and make money from the music I lovingly create and play. The industry as it is does not allow for this. I am merely pointing this out and I am 100% grateful to those promoters and venues who do pay me, however much, as every penny goes back into doing what I love and goes a long way to make what I do possible!

I think it is important that the impression people have of following dreams is a real one. It’s not writing a few tunes and suddenly being a rock star. It’s working for years from the bottom up, hoping you’ll be able to pay your rent again this month and afford to get to the next gig while possibly NEVER being a so called star or being out of part time work and in full time music.

It is hard graft. Blood, sweat, tears… I’ve shed all of them to follow my dream. I’ll continue to do so. I love it.

Writing songs and booking gigs is just the beginning. It’s also sitting up til 6 in the morning sending emails to more promoters, blogs, magazines and radio stations asking for exposure then getting a few hours kip before packing a bag and getting a train to who-knows-where to play a gig or do a radio interview for 20 listeners because any airtime is worth the exhaustion. It’s working a part time bar job every night after a full day of rehearsals on minimum wage and thanking God for that £6 in tips because that’s your bus fare back to the studio the next day. Thick skin and determination is essential. Passion is everything.

Apart from my sheer love for the music, the other huge element to keeping me in this is the people. I now have many people who support me continuously by sharing my music, promoting me in venues, turning up to gigs, playing my music on their radio stations… They are my heroes. One person singing along propels me forward. To have as many people as I have to call friends, fans or colleagues is a huge gift.

Rather than waiting to have an album to credit people, I’m going to list some of the important people I have around me so far and thank them whole heartedly for their amazing support. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. If I have forgotten to list anyone, please forgive me.

Twitter Fam:
@MrPeepsSays
@BoltonAddick
@TrustFox
@SqrPig
@MusicForiTunes
@JonpPenny
@DaveyHub
@ryan_Unsigned
@krystaljonjo
@SpeedOfSoundUK
@GBH68

Blog Fam:
www.nijimagazine.com
www.thepunkarchive.blogspot.com
www.thebartonquandry.com
www.musicvstheworld.wordpress.com

Radio Fam:
Coral Rose Radio, Lancaster
Shoreditch Radio, London
Krystal Radio, Essex
BBC Intro, Norfolk
London Unsigned/Unsigned Gig Guide
#RKC, Paris

Promoter Fam:
Elena Katrina
Nick Jaques
Wayne Samways
Zaid Zarathustras
Cheeky Promotions
JakRock Music
Dan Littlechild

My Musicians:
Nzoyi – guitars, keys, MD, brother from another mother
Jeff Cramer – guitar
Ben Witherstone – guitar
Frankie P – bass
Sophie Lord – bass
Michael Osborne – drums
Shakira Malkani – drums
Paolo Gravanti – Cajon
Amanda Brown – drums

Band Fam:
Ghouls
Riskee and the Ridicule
Banjaxeld
Gifted Circus
Nakisha Esnard
Facio

Fave Venues: (for hospitality, promotion, and friendship)
Golden Lion Hotel, Carmarthen
The Kings Arms, Salford
Bar Vinyl, Camden
The Blueberry, Norwich
Milgi, Cardiff
The Tram And Social, Tooting Broadway
The Aquarium, Lowestoft
The Worlds End, Finsbury Park

Special thanks to www.archstudios.co.uk for their friendly, very accommodating and generous team. You look after me and my team so well!

Also, I humbly thank every friend, fan and family member near and far who have given me a couch/floor/bed to sleep on, a meal, come to a gig, chucked me a tenner in times of trouble… Too many to name but you all know who you are and I hope you know how much I love you.

May my struggle carry on and bear fruit to be given back to you in abundance.

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For Mum

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It’s Mother’s Day! Which is why my blog is dedicated to my favourite Mum in the World – MINE!

My Mum only ever asks for one thing on Mother’s Day from each of her children. A letter. She always says she wants for nothing, so for us to take a minute, or an hour to write a letter to her is the most thoughtful thing we could do, and seeing as I have started this blog I decided that this year I would publicly write mine because she’s wonderful and I wanted to let the World know. Or at least anyone that decides to read my blog 😉

This last year has been a mental one for me and I am pretty sure I gave her a fair few new white hairs as a result, if not a load of heart burn to boot!

At the beginning of last year I decided in the space of a week to apply for Uni, move house and quit a 32k job to throw myself back into education in order to have the time to be a full time musician or at least be pursuing music full time!  Mum was understandably scared. Her very stable daughter was deciding to turn her life upside down, reduce her incomings by drastic proportions and go into an industry where sales are continually dropping and is saturated with hopefuls more than ever. She supported me through it any way regardless of her misgivings. Don’t get me wrong – she believes in my abilities (like every proud Mum she thinks I’m the best singer songwriter in the World) but in realistic terms, no matter who you are or how good, chances of being successful in music are slim. It’s a tougher industry than ever!

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My Mum is my hero. She has faced so many tough challenges in her life and has managed to come through without an ounce of bitterness to become a strong, fiercely independent woman who above all else loves her children, her husband and God. She has fed us with next to no money, raised us with dignity and respect, provided us with the ability to learn music, dance, horse riding or whatever else we wanted, sometimes at the risk of her own health to pay for it.  As far as I am concerned, she is the most amazing mother, friend, confidant and advisor.  I won’t tell you too much – she doesn’t know I am doing this and I have no idea how much she would be happy with me saying! 

At the end of last year my Mum watched me get my heart broken. Not for the first time, but definitely the worst. She felt my weight loss, my night terrors and my depression as though it was her own.  She had seen it coming, but never judged my choices, advised but never ‘told me so’ and never got frustrated with my tears. She just sat and held me, listened and comforted me in any way she could. Over and over.  I know that she would still sit and listen to me for hours going over the same unanswered questions now too.

My Mum never asks for anything from us, but would give everything she has to see us happy and healthy. I know you’re going to read this Mum, because you subscribed to my blog and your my biggest fan.  I just want you to know how much you mean to me.  I could never wish for a better mother or friend. I love you so much. Thank you. For last year and all the years before it. For your protection, support, love, friendship, advice. All the hugs AND the tellings off that have shaped who I am today.  Thank you for being my biggest PR and Publicity person by telling EVERY person you meet that they have to listen to my music. Thank you for believing in me when I don’t feel like I can believe in myself. For all of this and everything I have forgotten to mention here. Thank you.

Happy Mothers Day Mum. You rock my World.

xxx

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Gigs and Such

Hello!!

I promised to be back with the “other stuff” I’ve been up to over the last few weeks and you know, it’s rude to lie. So here I am again attempting to bore you to tears 😉

I have recently had the pleasure of seeing three of my favourite bands in ONE SHOW! on 15th Feb I got the very privileged opportunity to be at the front of Shepherds bush empire, stage right at the barriers to watch Zebrahead, Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish on the last night of their UK tour.  It was epic.  I have to say, working at an awesome live music venue has it’s perks – the security were ace making sure I wasn’t battered (secretly I was actually really disappointed I didn’t have my usual collection of bruises) and passing me paraphernalia like pics whenever they were dropped, not to mention (but I totally am) getting a hat trick of set lists handed to me! I am such a geek for bands….

Zebrahead kicked off the show playing their synth-punk-pop crazy tunes at supersonic speed with a bar on stage to get the other bands and some random people VERY drunk and happy. I ended up with a signed penguin head… I have no idea why but I will be keeping it FOREVER!

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http://www.zebrahead.com/

Less Than Jake played a near perfect run of my favourite songs including The Science of Selling Yourself Short and Plastic Cup Politics and they got two audience members u on stage to star jump through an entire song – poor bastards looked like they were ready to chuck their guts by the end. Brilliant antics from Buddy and a cameo from Matt Appleton on Sax made for some awesome highlights too.

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http://www.lessthanjake.com/

Reel Big Fish have been my favourite band since ’99. Even though their set is perfectly choreographed, their jokes are the same  every show and Aaron’s shirt collection appears to be rather small, I love them. Their songs, their energy and the fact that they are SUCH LOVELY PEOPLE!! Whenever I have had a chance to interact with any of them they are just very sweet, unassuming people who just love what they do. Side note – the new trombone player stepped up to the mark brilliantly. Proud moment here by the way – RBF used the second picture below for an “insert your caption” post on instagram. This makes me very happy, and VERY smug!

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http://www.reel-big-fish.com/

So what happens when you can’t afford a ticket to see Me First and the Gimme Gimmes? YOU WORK THE NIGHT! I’d actually forgotten it was happening having been caught up with Uni assignments and music projects so when I turned up last Friday to be greeted with a big sign saying that, I lost  my shit. SO EXCITED! Fat Mike wasn’t able to play, but that did not matter at all. I managed to swap bars so I was on stage right with one of the coolest bar ladies ever – Lianne Drewett if you read this I think you are rad – and I skanked out something chronic and drank shooters with punters as they smashed out hit after ska-punk fuelled hit.

Incase you don’t know who they are, The Gimmes are a covers band made up of some of the most awesome people in punk. They turn pop into ska-punk. Check out Wiki’s info on them here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_First_and_the_Gimme_Gimmes

REVIEWS

I’ve written a review or two since my last blog, so I have posted them here for you if you wish to have a read.  One was positive and one wasn’t.  When I first got asked to write a review for The Punk Archive it was for a friends band, The Ghouls. I love them, love their music and their debut album (which comes out 4th April by the way – cheeky plug) so a review was easy.

Here’s the Ghouls review if you haven’t seen it before now:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Ghouls

Ghoulsbeach

The second review I have written for The Punk Archive was for Courtesy Drop. Like Garage band gritty sounds? They are awesome:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Courtesy+Drop

They have quoted from my review. This is a huge compliment for me.

I then had the pleasure of reviewing The Shell Corporation. They have an awesome Police Cover on their album and it is rich with Pop-Punk glory. Here’s my view:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=The+Shell+Corporation

Being a musician myself I know how important feedback is for your music. I also know how hard it is to receive negative or constructive feedback. Your music is your baby. You nurture it from the ground up. Scrutinise it. Perfect it. Even when you release it you hear every flaw, every skipped beat and gap were you “could have just”.. so to write a review about an EP that I felt was sub standard as a release no matter how much potential and good musicianship I could hear has to have been one of the toughest things I have ever done.

If you’d like to read it, it’s here. My review for Bottler’s debut EP:

http://thepunkarchive.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Bottler

I even thought about never reviewing again. I haven’t had any feedback about it. No one has got upset with me – It was just so hard to have to be critical in that way. I will still be reviewing though and I truly hope that what I write constructive or not is useful to whomever I write the review about.

By the way, if you don’t follow The Punk Archive I highly recommend it. I am discovering some awesome music reading other peoples reviews. There is so much new and amazing music out there and if you are a punk fan, well…. What more do you need?

AND SUCH

Just as a side note before I sign off, this week has seen two new songs being written and some recording time booked in next week to start a six track acoustic demo I will be GIVING AWAY to anyone who signs up to my mailing list… OoooooooOOOooOOooooohhhhhhh….

See you soon cyber space lovelies….

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